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Laferrière Questionnaire

Alan Bradley takes the Laferrière Questionnaire

The Arthur Ellis Award-winning writer offers up murder, mayhem and mistletoe with his latest Flavia de Luce mystery -- but now it's our turn to do the sleuthing.

About the Laferrière Questionnaire: We asked writer Dany Laferrière to reinterpret the Proust Questionnaire for the 21st century. He put together 20 questions that shine a light on who we really are, both as writers and as individuals.

1. If you were Alice, would you rather stay in Wonderland on the other side of the mirror, or come back to the real world to tell your story?
As a dyed-in-the-wool Libra, I'd stay at the mid point: half in and half out of the looking glass world. In fact, that's where I am at this very moment.

2. If your home were on fire, what prized keepsake would you grab on your way out?
We actually had to make this choice during the Okanagan Mountain Park forest fire of 2003. We took our two cats and a few of the beautiful quilts my wife had made. Everything else was left behind.


3. What childhood fear do you still have as an adult?
Not being perfect.

4.Would it be okay to have a miserable childhood if that were a prerequisite for becoming a writer?
I had an idyllic childhood, and I can think of no justification for a miserable one.

5. Do you wake up at night to read or write?
Yes. I am awakened at night to write. Being a writer is an on-call job.

6. Do you feel anxious or excited when you start to write?
I feel exhilarated. A writer writing is a fish swimming, a bird flying. Of course Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern have already made a similar claim.

7. Does darkness soothe you or frighten you?
It soothes me. I think best in the dark.

8. Do you tend to hang on to a thousand little scraps of paper, or do you regularly clean out your drawers?
I live in a blizzard of scraps. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that ideas come, not at home and not away, but at the transition points, which we should maximize. I scribble on bags and paper napkins on my way to and from the grocery store.

9. Which animal would you rather be: a cat or a dog?
A cat. Paws down. And my two cats agree.

10. Does love dry up your creative juices or make them flow faster?
Creative juices are known to contain, by volume, 72.96 percent love. The rest is    composed of energy and the desire to reach the point where you can break for a nap.

11. Do you remember your dreams?
I remember many of them. I wrote down my dreams for years until I realized that my brain was re-releasing old ones. Like 'Fantasia', or 'Pinocchio' they came around again every five years.

12. What's your favourite colour? 
The colour of autumn leaves.

13. What's your favourite season?
Autumn.

14. Does pressure motivate you?
I suppose it does, but I resent it nowadays. Having worked in TV broadcasting for years, where the clock is king, I prefer to be ruled by my own sense of what needs doing rather than by a cluster of manic cogs.

15. Would you rather live to write or write to live?
Living is writing. Writing is living.

16. What published book do you secretly wish you had written?
Besides Ecclesiastes, T.H. White's 'The Once and Future King'.

17. Are you the paranoid type or calm, cool and collected?
I like to think I'm c, c, and c - although my wife and my cats might tell you otherwise. Or would they?

18. What would qualify as the afternoon of your dreams?
Being allowed to go back to my grandmother's house, to listen to the talk around the fireside.

19.   Are you more like the sun or the moon?
The moon, I think. I am much more reflective than radiant.

20. Do you hear voices?
Oh, yes - constantly! I listen to them, write them down, and have them published.

Alan Bradley is the author of the Flavia de Luce mystery series, the latest instalment of which is the Christmas-themed I Am Half-Sick of Shadows. He was the first President of the Saskatoon Writers and a founding member of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. His short stories have been broadcast by CBC Radio, and his lifestyle and humour pieces have appeared in The Globe and Mail and the National Post.

Photo credit: Jeff Bassett

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